I wrote this after a boy died in a car accident. I was first on-scene. I had my ex-wife in the car with me as a ride-along. I attempted, unsuccessfully, to pull the boy from the burning car and then assisted in the notification. Between the constant hate toward police and the feelings demonstrated in this writing, it is no wonder our brothers and sisters struggle.

A Mother’s Death

As I pull up to the residence I feel empty. The scent still hangs with me as though I was wearing it like a cloak. I slowly exit my vehicle and see the other officer, the elected official, and Death standing near me.

I shudder as I know what we must do. In this moment I try to imagine the pain that I am about to bestow on this woman. It is too ghastly, I cannot feel it. It is not her fault, she did not ask for this, yet I know my delay will only slow the finality.

I attempt to make light of the situation with my cohorts. All of us smile and chuckle, the humor of whatever words escaped my mouth falling on deaf ears. I can’t let them know how weak, helpless, and alone I feel at this moment. Death smirks at me. It knows what I feel and basks in the horror of the evening. The sting on my face reminds me of the events leading me here. He was so young, so blind to the consequences of his actions. How does death choose how and when to deal the cards it gleefully deals. I remind myself that I must be strong for this woman as I destroy her.

We arrive at the front door. I cannot breath. The official knocks. The knocks heard louder than I have ever experienced. I silently wait. I pray that attempts to rouse the woman fail. Alas, I hear someone jostle the handle from the other side of the door. My heart sinks as the moment approaches.

The door opens and the woman sees Death standing before her. No introductions are necessary. She knows instantly what we have brought her.

Death leads the way as we enter the living room. Her cries echo through my head. I attempt to find words to comfort her but they will not come. Death smiles as it wraps its shroud around her.

I feel as if there is nothing, except this moment. I’m weak; my senses dulled to my surroundings. My head is spinning as the fiery images of the boy roll through my mind. The remnants of the putrid scent of the burning flesh are nauseating. This has to be a dream. This is not supposed to be how ones’ life ends.

The woman looks at me with the black sorrowful eyes and asks, “Did he feel pain?”

In a split second I am brought back from my haze. I look at the woman. I see the boy in her eyes. I want to reach out to her and say something to ease her pain. The words are not forthcoming. I muster a simple “no.”

I can see she does not believe me. If ever I have seen into someone’s sole it is at this moment. I see that Death not only mocks me, but gleefully takes part of this woman as well. She collapses to the ground crying.

For the second time this evening, I have watched someone’s life end.

———

Jeremy Scharlow currently lives in Illinois. He obtained his bachelor’s in business administration and is currently completing work in completion of his Master of Arts in legal studies, both at the University of Illinois at Springfield. He is medically retired from the Mahomet Police Department where he served as a patrol officer for 10.5 years and as a METRO SWAT member for 9 of those years. After his line-of-duty injury, he began advocating for PTSD awareness in the law enforcement community.